Ask the Doc
Ask the Doc
Ask The Expert
February 24, 2012
Yes, you can get valuable information from measuring your blood pressure at home.
I suspect you have “white coat” hypertension. This is when your blood pressure goes up when you see the doctor. But it may be well within the normal range at home. You won’t know for sure unless you get a home blood pressure monitor.
If you have normal blood pressure readings at home, you probably don’t need to take blood pressure medicine. But if you have high readings at home, your doctor would want you to pay more attention to your diet, including how much salt you have. He or she might also prescribe a low dose blood pressure medicine.
I recommend an automated electronic blood pressure monitor. These devices are much easier to use than mechanical cuffs. They don’t cost too much and are quite accurate.
Some tips for taking your blood pressure at home:
- Relax for at least 15 minutes before measuring your blood pressure. Don’t smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or eat during this time.
- Choose a quiet place to measure your blood pressure. Sit in a comfortable chair that supports your back and arms, and make sure your feet are on the floor.
- Don’t move or talk while checking your blood pressure.
- If one of your arms has consistently higher readings than the other, use this arm to record your blood pressure. And let your doctor know about the difference. Blood pressure is usually the same (or very close) in both arms. Doctors typically measure BP in the left arm.
- Position the cuff roughly at the level of your heart. Your arm should be supported by a table or the arm of your chair.
- Try checking your BP at different times on different days. Your blood pressure may go up and down over the day. This will help you get a sense of the pattern.
- If you are taking more than one measurement at a sitting, wait 5 minutes in between.
- Write down all of your readings to review with your doctor.
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